Like spring rolls and tikka masala, Italian food has ingrained itself into the British dinner rotation presenting as mums spag bol, a cheap and cheerful option with breadsticks and checkered tablecloths or high-end ravioli, garlic prawns and fine Italian wines. Whether you’re looking for a carb loading comfort binge, to taste the Sicilian coast or eat a Margarita that would be proud to stand by any pie slung in Naples, this is the list for you.
The little sister to the Whiteladies Road restaurant is bringing the same relaxed vibes you know and love but in a far more intimate setting. The menu is as varied as it ever was, with their famous pizzas taking center stage using the best Italian and British ingredients they can get their expertly floured hands on. They haven’t forgotten the other dishes that make Italy great, however. After extensive travelling around the country, Bosco’s chefs have brought back much loved recipes from all regions. Pick your way through cured meats, fine cheeses and a selection of traditional small plates as well as fresh pastas and salads. Everyone is catered for here too, from vegans to full blown meateaters (the rose veal escalope is to die for) so you will be hard pushed to not find something that everyone agrees is delizioso!
If you haven’t heard of Pasta Loco, we can only assume you have been living under a rock or in another country for the last few years. Cousins Dominic and Ben pulled together their love for all things Italian and after a months of blood sweat and tears, opened their first Bristol restaurant on the much lauded Cotham Hill. These guys live and breathe not only pasta but that famous Italian hospitality. Personalised menus, glasses of fizz on arrival and some of the warmest welcomes await you here as well a short but sweet menu packed full of incredible ingredients, sourced as locally as possible and all handmade when they can. Plates of wild boar ragu, gnocchi, and rich carbonara are served as well as plates of scallops, escallops and a very fine cheese plate.
Carrying on with the Dominic and Ben love, their second restaurant has proven an incredible success with even Jay Rayner heaping the place with praise. The menu is different here with a focus on stuffed pastas, forget about that ravioli in a can you’ve tried before, this is something much better. Each parcel of pasta is handmade, rolled, pinched and cooked by a team of dedicated chefs and delivered to you with the same love and passion you will find in the kitchen. The menu again is small but you would be upset to have to choose from too much here, starters include monster shell on prawns drowned in garlic butter and demand to be eaten by hand, the missed butter mopped up with a slice of the fresh focaccia handed to each table (our top tip is to order another round of this for your main course too). Mains include a rotating list of ravioli and a specials board that will be hard to pick from, but will have you reminiscing on in the future, like an Italian holiday romance.
Zanky's Italian Restaurant
The word that comes to mind when we think of Zanky’s is intimate. This small but perfectly formed restaurant is a relative newcomer to Gloucester Road but has already enjoyed quite a following from Bristolian foodies. Zanky’s specialise in Sardinian cuisine, such as their Fregola sarda ai frutti di mare, a dish made of Sardinian semolina hard pasta, sea bream, mussels, squid and prawns, the perfect dish to order for a taste of the islands. This is a truly family inspired business with owner and head chef Fabio Dindi taking the recipes of his Grandfather and modernising them to match the vibe of his resturant. Keeping the great public happy, they also serve an incredible Sunday roast with enough British and Italian influences to persuade you that fusion food is more than a fad. Think cured meat antipasti, pasta with sausage for starter then roast lamb, goat or pork served with fresh veggies for main and tiramisu to finish!